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power of stories &Aspire Black Suffolk

Groundbreaking projects & origins of my work

The waist area of a black mannequin wearing Okeye movie costume from Black Panther.  The waist and hip area is covered with leather work which is adorned with intricate bead work and a cat-inspired emblem on a brass badge. The arm is covered in a red leather sleeve, with a multi-ring golden bangle. A spear is in the mannequin's hand.

Photo: Okoye's costume form Marvel Studios' Black Panther 1 in the Power of Stories exhibition, Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich. Credit: Megan Wilson.

What happened?

​Ran by Ipswich Museums in 2021, the award-winning Power of Stories featured three original costumes from Marvel Studios' Black Panther 1 blockbuster and was co-curated with the Black community, comic book experts and allies.

orking throughout the pandemic, initially as a volunteer, I created high levels of engagement among the local Black community and people of other ethnicities. The network of those involved grew beyond the initial few people and organisations to local National Portfolio Organisations and people who had never had any connection to the museum and its work.

I was driven to maximise on this amazing and one-off opportunity to work with and for people who'd been underrepresented and overlooked for generations. Despite their significant contributions to local culture and the economy.

Having moved to Ipswich in 2015 I'd noticed a lack of global majority people in cultural spaces which felt unhealthy in one of the most ethnically diverse towns I'd ever visited. This spurred me on to address this imbalance.

My skills in relationship development and project management made the initiative - which I named Aspire Black Suffolk, with the community's support - pivotal in generating record-breaking footfall to the exhibition. It even triggered a local movement, bringing a renewed sense of optimism, pride and belonging.

What made Aspire Black Suffolk different to usual engagement and outreach work, was its autonomy from Ipswich Museum. I contributed to the Arts Council funding application which was submitted and managed by the museum. £24k was secured to fund community-led cultural activities. Other than that link, we did our own thing! 

Power of Stories (Photo credit Megan Wilson) (20) - Copy.jpg

Naturally, BLM and the pandemic leveraged interest and engagement, however, planning was well underway before both events. But it was important to recognise that these historic crises could become something positive. 

A range of Black-led community groups got involved, creating events and activities that made up a programme of events over 4 months, alongside the exhiibiton. Local FE college students collobrated to design the programme's logo.

I also secured national and local PR coverage in addition to this engagement work, as I didn't want this work to go un-reported. 

In late 2021, Aspire Black Suffolk became a company of which I'm a co-director. I went on to work closely with local museums and venues to tour Power of Stories to extend its impact, tell more Black stories and open up more opportunities for engagement. Find out more about the company here.


Power of Stories won a 2022 Museum + Heritage Award (the Oscars of British museums, no less), despite being shortlisted alongside the Natural History Museum, Blenheim Palace and the V&A. Judges loved its pioneering approach, high quality production, emotive curation, honest storytelling, and high levels of engagement. 


In 2022, I won a Museums Association national 'Radical Changemaker' award. And Aspire Black Suffolk won a BBC Suffolk Make a Difference Award. 

​Power of Stories has won other regional awards for co-curation and volunteers.

Game-changing work

​​The exhibition and engagement activity were game-changing - not just locally but for the national museum sector. In fact, all sectors can take important lessons from this work.

​Together, Power of Stories and Aspire Black Suffolk demonstrated how excellence can be achieved when communities and organisations hold each other to account. 

​Not only did I create a winning formula for engagement, I also became the figurehead of a movement which has produced off-shoot projects, new collaborations and many new friendships.  

After three and a half years of being immersed in the work, I stepped away from Aspire Black Suffolk in July 2023 to concentrate on my consultancy and project work. 

Find out more about me and my work here.

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